Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?


Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby theredbaron » Aug 19th, '12, 00:10

debunix wrote:
theredbaron wrote:I agree that scales should be put away when enjoying tea


You shouldn't need a scale for every session, but when you're trying to compare tea brewing parameters, it's a lot more accurate than trying to eyeball the proportion of the tea vessel you're filling with a tea. Is 80% full meaning to 80% of the height of the vessel brim? for a gaiwan that gets wider as it gets taller, that measure isn't the same as 80% of the volume. Is 80% full to the rim where the lid fits, or the edge of the rim? A scale lets you weigh the tea and the water, the easiest way to be sure you're talking about the same thing.


When one is using these porcelain competition sets to compare different teas than maybe a using a scale is useful, but that is hardly optimizing the flavor of the tea.
I find that a scale is still very misleading, especially when purely enjoying tea. Every pot/vessel is slightly different, and does different things to the tea. Different tea pots are more suitable to different teas, depending on clay, age of the pot, shape of the pot, thickness of the walls, etc. One has to get to know any particular tea as it brews in the best available pot, water, etc., and has to make adjustments accordingly. It takes time and effort to get to know a tea, and how it reacts to the many different factors that influence the tea, and what the tea does to you.
Sitting there with a scale, a watch and a thermometer will not result in the best possible pot of tea - it will only result in what these tools are made for: an attempt of a standardized cup of tea, which more often than not is not the optimum.
theredbaron
 
Posts: 526
Joined: Aug 1st, '1
Location: Bangkok

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby theredbaron » Aug 19th, '12, 00:16

spinmail wrote:though I get the feeling that the proportion may depend on the type of tea.


Yes. And not just the type of tea, but also the water you use, the heat of the water, the type of vessel, the cups, and getting more esoteric - the type of vessel you boil the water in, the heat source (electric/alcohol/coal), the way how you pour the tea into the cups, the experience of the person brewing the tea, the particular mood you are in at the present moment, etc., to cut it short, there is an almost endless amount of factors involved.
theredbaron
 
Posts: 526
Joined: Aug 1st, '1
Location: Bangkok

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby debunix » Aug 19th, '12, 00:32

spinmail wrote:Thanks to the information here, I had much better results by increasing the amount of dry tea - which also increased the "rock tea" flavor, as well.


Glad it's helped.

spinmail wrote:I could probably increase the total amount of dry tea, though I get the feeling that the proportion may depend on the type of tea.


On the type of tea, and your preferences. I'm a tea wimp, and like my tea pretty dilute, most of the time. But sometimes even I like it quite strong. Still, you do have to leave some room for the fully wetted leaves to expand and shift about a little in the water.
User avatar
debunix
 
Posts: 5179
Joined: Jan 10th, '
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby JRS22 » Aug 19th, '12, 09:21

spinmail wrote:I've since read the wikipedia article on gongfu tea preparation, and the suggestions mirror the information here. I was surprised that, depending on the vessel, one may use as much as 15g or dry tea.


That 'fill' factor combined with the cost of really good yancha is why so many teachatters are out looking for tiny pots!
User avatar
JRS22
 
Posts: 1112
Joined: Nov 7th, '0

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby Bad Jedi » Aug 30th, '12, 06:07

theredbaron wrote:
spinmail wrote:though I get the feeling that the proportion may depend on the type of tea.


Yes. And not just the type of tea, but also the water you use, the heat of the water, the type of vessel, the cups, and getting more esoteric - the type of vessel you boil the water in, the heat source (electric/alcohol/coal), the way how you pour the tea into the cups, the experience of the person brewing the tea, the particular mood you are in at the present moment, etc., to cut it short, there is an almost endless amount of factors involved.


+1
User avatar
Bad Jedi
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Aug 7th, '1

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby dchew78 » Oct 9th, '12, 10:13

theredbaron wrote:
spinmail wrote:though I get the feeling that the proportion may depend on the type of tea.


Yes. And not just the type of tea, but also the water you use, the heat of the water, the type of vessel, the cups, and getting more esoteric - the type of vessel you boil the water in, the heat source (electric/alcohol/coal), the way how you pour the tea into the cups, the experience of the person brewing the tea, the particular mood you are in at the present moment, etc., to cut it short, there is an almost endless amount of factors involved.


A bit late to this discussion, just joined this forum for a couple of days :)

if I may chip in, agree with redbaron, there are too many variables to pin down to say that "if you brew x g at y degrees for z seconds you will get the 'perfect brew'.

Being a fan of basketball, I like to utilize 'in-game' adjustments.

Usually when I brew oolong with a gaiwan I would put in about 1/4 full for minnan/taiwan and 1/3-1/2 for minbei/dancong

Add hot water and infuse it, smelling the lid intermittently to determine when the aroma is 'ripe' and decant.

If the brew is too thick, I will remove some tea leaves to adjust, if conversely its too weak, I will make a mental note not to fill the gaiwan to the brim subsequently.

On the second steep, I will repeat and adjust if necessary.
dchew78
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Oct 4th, '1
Location: Singapore

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 10:53

Slightly off topic, but related to dchew78's post and others (but then again isn't a shiborashi and a houhin a modified gaiwan)?

... when nailing down a Japanese green, I usually adjust one variable at a time. Yes, one needs to be aware of all the different sets of variables. But I believe if I try a Japanese tea, I will often know exactly how to improve my results next time and can adjust accordingly. If I try to adjust too many variables at the same time, it is like juggling (which I could never do either).

A scale, a timer, a thermometer can help "optimize" results. They do not guarantee better results and much relies on the experience of the person using such tools.

There are obviously all kinds of ebbs and flows coming into play, but this is what makes tea challenging, enjoyable, rewarding ... and fun.

It is interesting being able to quantify the process and to a degree the results. It is like a math equation ... sort of. Or maybe a chemical reaction problem.

Having said that, these tools are not for everyone, nor for every tea.
User avatar
Chip
Mod/Admin
 
Posts: 22291
Joined: Apr 22nd, '
Location: Back in the TeaCave atop Mt. Fuji

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby ethan » Oct 9th, '12, 15:05

Chip,
The "nailing down" of one variable at a time is something wise that I will try to remember. If unhappy w/ an infusion, change one part of preparation on the next, ... Thanks
ethan
 
Posts: 508
Joined: May 27th, '
Location: Boston, MA 2/3; Thailand 1/3

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby dchew78 » Oct 9th, '12, 20:00

Chip wrote:Slightly off topic, but related to dchew78's post and others (but then again isn't a shiborashi and a houhin a modified gaiwan)?

... when nailing down a Japanese green, I usually adjust one variable at a time. Yes, one needs to be aware of all the different sets of variables. But I believe if I try a Japanese tea, I will often know exactly how to improve my results next time and can adjust accordingly. If I try to adjust too many variables at the same time, it is like juggling (which I could never do either).

A scale, a timer, a thermometer can help "optimize" results. They do not guarantee better results and much relies on the experience of the person using such tools.

There are obviously all kinds of ebbs and flows coming into play, but this is what makes tea challenging, enjoyable, rewarding ... and fun.

It is interesting being able to quantify the process and to a degree the results. It is like a math equation ... sort of. Or maybe a chemical reaction problem.

Having said that, these tools are not for everyone, nor for every tea.


Chip, I don't disagree with you, conceptually.

All else being equal is a difficult state to achieve in the real world, even with measurement tools and all that.

For example water temperature- room temperature, how high I hold the kettle as I pour, how much of it its cooled by the vessel etc etc....

That's why adjusting 'in-brew' helps narrows down the variables but of course you can only have a 1st steep, or 2nd steep etc once, so that is a variable in itself.

I am not arguing against using measurements per se- I have a weighing scale, a timer and a thermometer handy always but 2 things bears mentioning
i) This seems to be a topic of debate in another board- :D - the crutch factor and I don't want to go there because it creates the impression that there is any 'superiority' involved which is not my intent; we are all students of tea, we can always learn from each other
ii) Making tea is a joyous act in itself- it relaxes us, helps us to focus on little details- bubbles, aroma, etc which gets our mind away from the problems of our daily lives, albeit for a mere moment.
That is part of the enjoyment of tea IMO, turning it into a scientific experiment (which though has its merits) sometimes detracts from the holistic enjoyment for me :D
Or maybe its because I really hated chemistry when i was in school :lol:
dchew78
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Oct 4th, '1
Location: Singapore

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby AdamMY » Oct 9th, '12, 20:31

I have known Chip long enough to know, that he knows how to and does somewhat often adjust based on the results of a previous brew for subsequent brews. But, and correct me if I am mistaken Chip, I do know he likes to brew his sencha almost like a scientific experiment, where allowing for some non extreme environmental fluctuations, he should end up with a successful experiment when he follows the proper procedures, or in his case a good set of brews after following his carefully worked out brewing guidelines for his tea.


In short you two are kind of viewing this in two different ways. Chip, when he first gets a tea, tends to play it safe at first, then slowly adjust one parameter at a time trying to optimize results. While if you view tea brewing with a bit my whimsy throughout the whole processes, its less of a scientific experiment and more of a art project. With ceramics being the only art I've done in awhile, my ceramics teacher would say sometimes you just have to do what the clay wants to do. So while they clay may be too dry for the detail work you want, or the clay is to wet for it to easily hold the shape you want, you need to always be thinking how can I make something I will enjoy with what I have going on here today.

That being said, I kind of disagree with both of you, while I know Chips will almost always work if you are willing to be that detailed. While the whole adjusting while you brew, really only works out great if you already have a good idea, or were given good guidelines on where to start. I mean imagine if someone thought "Gyokuro is tea" so I am going to a big spoonful with boiling water for 3 minutes, and adjust from there. I am not sure anyone could adjust time down enough to make that taste good, which is often the first variable people play with.

So while I said I disagree with both of you, its also because I agree with both of you, you really need both approaches when beginning then you can go either way you want.
User avatar
AdamMY
 
Posts: 2363
Joined: Jul 22nd, '
Location: Capital of the Mitten

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby Chip » Oct 9th, '12, 20:52

8) that is the kindest disagreement I have heard in a longggg time.

Hm, I have come to some conclusion that part of my more scientific approach has been borne of the need to translate to others on an internet forum (and the other part being I enjoy the approach for Japanese greens especially). The internet lacks 3 dimensions if you will, and lacks senses (though we joke about smellovision ... and perhaps 3-D is not far off :mrgreen: )

The biggest science about my brewing anymore tends to be focused on the right "ratio" which has become a cue word on TeaChat and other internet venues.

The funniest thing to me about ratios is how we mix measuring systems, grams per ounces, really??? We are really mad scientists here. :lol:

Since this is an oolong topic (my apologies, I somehow thought I was in Teaware and Accessories), I will say this here, I rarely device measure anything for oolong except for time since I am a bit ADD ... and assuming I am not brewing a brand new tea or a tea for tastings such as OTTI.
User avatar
Chip
Mod/Admin
 
Posts: 22291
Joined: Apr 22nd, '
Location: Back in the TeaCave atop Mt. Fuji

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby dchew78 » Oct 9th, '12, 20:53

This topic is about steeping with a gaiwan and in the oolong forum so we had 2 variables nailed down.

In my first post to this topic I mentioned the quantity I would use for the types of oolong and how long I steep- till my nose tells me (which is actually less arbitrary than it appears since aroma is a function of steeping time and water temperature).

So it's not a brew out of mid-air, random brew and adjust from there type. It is more for fine-tuning.

If I am brewing a tea I have little experience with- sencha, kenyan etc, I would more often than not bring out my scale and stuff.

So I guess amid our disagreement there is agreement. Just it got buried in the shuffle.

Like I said earlier, I don't disagree with Chip nor do I argue for the superiority of any method.
dchew78
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Oct 4th, '1
Location: Singapore

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby theredbaron » Oct 11th, '12, 02:35

AdamMY wrote: I do know he likes to brew his sencha almost like a scientific experiment, where allowing for some non extreme environmental fluctuations, he should end up with a successful experiment when he follows the proper procedures, or in his case a good set of brews after following his carefully worked out brewing guidelines for his tea.





Brewing a great cup of tea is important.
But, i believe that tea has the potential for much more than just fulfilling one or the other sense, such as sense of taste and smell. Fulfilling sensory satisfaction is a vehicle for mindfulness, and there the way of how to brew tea becomes important, what you may translate as the art of tea, or philosophy of tea.
There are many different ways in tea tradition, depending on culture, country, etc. In Japan you have the many different schools of Chado, in China most famous Gong Fu Cha, or more modern developments based on this. Korea has its own forms of tea ceremony. What is common in all those different ways is that there is more to tea than just a good tasting brew.
While a "scientific" approach may lead to quick improvements in the taste department, it may easily turn a hindrance in developing the mind, which puts more emphasis in the development of intuition.

I guess it depends one's own expectation and perception. But i believe that several thousand years of tea history, art and philosophy should not be rejected without first looking into it.
theredbaron
 
Posts: 526
Joined: Aug 1st, '1
Location: Bangkok

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby MacGuffin » Oct 11th, '12, 08:39

You shouldn't need a scale for every session, but when you're trying to compare tea brewing parameters, it's a lot more accurate than trying to eyeball the proportion of the tea vessel you're filling with a tea. Is 80% full meaning to 80% of the height of the vessel brim? for a gaiwan that gets wider as it gets taller, that measure isn't the same as 80% of the volume. Is 80% full to the rim where the lid fits, or the edge of the rim? A scale lets you weigh the tea and the water, the easiest way to be sure you're talking about the same thing.

I have to agree with this, especially given that some teas, e.g. Taiwan and Anxi oolongs, expand a LOT when they're brewed. The size of your gaiwan matters as well. Make sure to heat your gaiwan first by adding boiling water, covering, then allowing it to sit for a minute or so. Empty the water, add the dry leaves, cover, and let the leaves warm a bit. Uncover, appreciate the fragrance, then do a quick (we're talking flash here) rinse with your brewing water. I was taught at this point to cover the rinsed leaves and let them rest for up to a minute. At this point, start your actual brewing.
I like to use 4 g as a starting point for most tea brewing, regardless of variety unless my brewing vessel is tiny. You'll get a feel for water-to-leaf ratio as you gain experience, plus so much depends on personal taste, e.g. I find that short infusions allow me to appreciate a tea's nuances more than longer ones. There's no right or wrong--just take the suggestions that you think might work for you and then tweak them to your own liking.
MacGuffin
 
Posts: 99
Joined: May 27th, '
Location: NYC

Re: Steeping with gaiwan - what am I doing wrong?

Postby jcov » Oct 16th, '12, 12:10

If you are more used to the western cup, then this might be half the problem. You won't get that strong tea cup from it. Using the gaiwan, at least in my opinion is to allow you to taste the tea as it 'changes' initial steeps and later when the leaves start opening and then when it starts to fade.

But other people's advice are also right. You have to try and find that tea to water ratio, usually for a 4oz gaiwan i use 5-7gm of tea in my gaiwan. But this is a 'guideline' and you'll find many teas where you'll want to adjust the ratio accordingly to your taste.

Good luck!
User avatar
jcov
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Feb 13th, '
Location: Washington DC

PreviousNext

Instant Messenger

Permissions
You cannot post new topics
You cannot reply to topics
You cannot edit your posts
You cannot delete your posts
You cannot post attachments
Navigation